HomePod Distortion on some bass-heavy tracks on several HomePods.

Discussion in 'HomeKit, HomePod, CarPlay, Home & Auto Technology' started by MayaTlab, Jun 20, 2018.

  1. MayaTlab macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2007
    #1
    Hi,

    New HomePod user here (from Europe).

    I noticed thanks to the compulsory Massive Attack's Angel bass test that my HomePod had a noticeable distortion when the heavy, low frequency beat hits. This is most noticeable from 6:00 to the end, where the beat can be easily isolated, when putting my ears 20cm away from the top. Every time the beat hits, there is a VRRR VRRR vibration happening. I've switched support and location to no avail. Changing source (either Apple music, or Airplay) changes nothing. I've tried to play simple tones via Airplay to better understand why there is such distortion and I believe that it's excited by frequencies around 30-60hz, but I'm not sure, as it wasn't quite as noticeable as with the beat on the aforementioned track.

    Given that the distortion sound felt very mechanical, physical, as if a piece is rattling inside, just like one of my PSI A17m monitor sounded before its woofer was replaced, I thought that my HomePod wasn't properly built, so I had it exchanged.

    Unfortunately, the second unit has the same problem.

    S/N are DLXWJ255HQK8 and DLXWK53GHQK8.

    Have you shared this experience ?

    Could you help me understand what's going on ?

    Thanks in advance for your help. Best regards.
     
  2. Bfarmer38119 macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2012
    Location:
    Memphis
    #2
    Just listened in stereo and to individual HomePods and nothing noticed to my ears. I have the latest software on the HomePods. If you hear it, its there for you. Have you had someone else listen to what you're describing?
     
  3. MayaTlab, Jun 20, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2018

    MayaTlab thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2007
    #3
    Yep. It was difficult for him to pick it up at first, but comparing it to my monitors or a pair of headphones made it quite obvious to him.
    I may make an appointment with a Genius, but I'm not sure that the typical atmosphere in an Apple Store is going to help making a constructive assessment of the issue. Does anyone know of a mail address I could contact ? I've called Apple support but the problem doesn't seem to be a known issue.
     
  4. Endorphine88 macrumors regular

    Endorphine88

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2018
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    #4
    Throwing in a response so I can follow this topic. I will try this when I get home (both in stereo pair and on all homepods I have separately) in a few hours and see if it's a sound signature thing.
     
  5. MayaTlab thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2007
    #5
    Thanks for your help. Now that I've spent more time with my HomePod I feel that this distortion problem seems to be more or less exclusive to the track that I mentioned (Angel by Massive Attack). I haven't found anything quite as noticeable with other tracks. However, I'm 100% able to reproduce it at will when playing this track on my HomePod, and I'm 100% sure that it's not part of the track, or Apple Music's version of that track (this can easily be known by playing it through a pair of headphones with a decent low bass frequency extension and little distortion, for example - a lot of headphones extend lower than most bookshelf speakers and with lower distortion). The distortion might be subtle to someone not used to hearing this track without it but in a comparative setting it was easy to demonstrate.
    An hypotheses could be that since the HomePod is, basically, computational audio, and since two HomePods were affected, something in the way the woofer is managed by software trips up on the specific bass tracks from that music.
    I'm seeing a genius next Saturday, we'll see what comes out of it.
     
  6. yoavcs macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2004
    Location:
    Israel
    #6
    I can hear it too. Doesn’t sound disturbing to my ears or something that could damage the HomePod. But it’s definitely there as you stated, starting around the 6:00 mark.

    Edit: it’s prominent on the Mezzanine album version of Angel. When I listen to the version from Collected I can’t hear it.
     
  7. MayaTlab, Jun 22, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2018

    MayaTlab thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2007
    #7
    Ah that's interesting. I'll give it a try.
    EDIT : I can hear it in all Angel tracks, from all of MA's albums, either from Apple Music, or Spotify via Airplay, or my own rip of the album. So maybe we aren't talking about the same sound ? It isn't the "twang" coming after the beat, progressively fading out at the end of the song. It's a very mechanical sounding vibration, as if something is rattling a little bit inside, synchronised with the beat.
     
  8. Endorphine88, Jun 22, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2018

    Endorphine88 macrumors regular

    Endorphine88

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2018
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    #8
    Ok, so I tried it multiple times and I do hear what you're talking about. The funny part is that when I listed to the track in stereo pair, the distortion only comes out of one (the right) HomePod. When I listen from one HomePod it's still there. This is making me think that there's something in the actual waveform that the HomePod is analyzing and it's pushing the bass to such an extent that it's causing that "rattling". It doesn't really bother me throughout the track until you reach the end (after 5:59) where it is the most noticeable. Also, it only happens above 50% volume.
    I tried other bass heavy tracks and heard no such thing. I guess it is specific to this song.


    I played the track on my Bose Soundbar in the living room and there is no distortion, but the way Bose copes with the bass pushed all the way to it's limit is it actually dials down the lowest frequency a bit - it still packs a punch but it doesn't rattle your gut.

    I also listened to Angel on a pair of Quietcomfort 35s - no distortion per se but it does get uncomfortable at higher volume. I guess that was the intention behind the track? IDK.
     
  9. MayaTlab thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2007
    #9
    Thanks for the info regarding the difference between L and R channels in stereo. I don't have a second HomePod yet so that's useful information I can feed to the genius tomorrow.

    I think that this is the point of the entire album to some extent :D.
     
  10. Endorphine88 macrumors regular

    Endorphine88

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2018
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
  11. yoavcs macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2004
    Location:
    Israel
    #11
    Yup, a definite mechanical rattle with each heavy beat. Sounds like the speaker is being pushed to its limits. I just don't hear it on all versions of the song.
     
  12. MayaTlab thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2007
    #12
    Noted then :D.
     
  13. MayaTlab thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2007
    #13
    So as I suspected it proved impossible in the Apple Store to replicate and / or hear the issue. That said I had a brainwave then : just record my HomePod at home with a mic and send an additional feedback to Apple. This will take a while but I'll keep people in this thread informed of how things evolve.
     
  14. HDFan macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2007
    #14
    Looks as if that continuous tone is ~63hz and the lower beats are as you said are closer to 31hz.

    I didn't hear anything, but then I was listening 10 feet away from them.
     
  15. MayaTlab thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2007
    #15
  16. Newtons Apple macrumors P6

    Newtons Apple

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2014
    Location:
    Jacksonville, Florida
    #16
    Almost all speakers will distort at certain frequencies at high volume settings.
     
  17. MayaTlab thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2007
    #17
    This is not a "normal" distortion, and is way too loud at this low volume setting (30% only for recording the video). Besides if it were only a question of volume, it would show on any track exciting a specific frequency, but that isn't the case as the phenomenon is only really apparent on this track by Massive Attack. And it isn't the track itself, as I have better systems and headphones than my HomePod to show.
     
  18. HDFan macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2007
    #18
    Do you have a sound level meter (such as that included in the IOS audio tools app) so you can record db level at which you hear the sound? I tried your sample (and the streaming ones as well) on HomePods, headphones, and speakers but didn't hear anything that sounded abnormal. But my listening level is normally in the 70 db range.
     
  19. MayaTlab thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2007
    #19
    There is no need to push the HomePod to produce that sound. I nearly never listen past 70db. At this volume though it's best to place your ears close to the top of the speaker to hear it.
    The distortion / rattle / vibration is in the video I've posted. I could possibly do better to highlight it, but it's in there. The beat should be a reasonably clean very low frequency thump. The distortion / rattle / vibration happens a bit higher in the frequency range, on top of the thump. It's a sort of dull VRRR VRRR. Earbuds or Laptop speakers won't make it noticeable in the video. Better headphones or systems will.
    It's perfectly understandable that people unfamiliar with the track may not hear it. Besides I've been doing some mastering and mixing for a few years so maybe there's that as well.
     
  20. Khorn macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2013
    #20
    Really seems to be a mechanical issue.
    Just got my second HomePod yesterday. My first HomePod is crisp clear, no rattle at all. But on the second one I can hear it. Seems to get worse when they are paired and it's set to the right channel. You can also hear it in Clubbed to Death by Rob Dougan
     
  21. MayaTlab thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2007
    #21
    Thanks for the heads up. It's interesting that you find a difference between two different HomePods, if so as you said it's just bad manufacturing. I won't be able to test Clubbed to Death as I've returned my HomePod. I plan to buy another one in a few months to see if it's been solved.
     

Share This Page